Customer Reviews


7 Reviews
5 star:
 (2)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but not great.
Christopher Hibbert is a very good popular historian who has covered a range of topics related to this book; such as Italian cities etc.. If you want a lively overview of the Borgias at the height of their powers then this is the book for you. There is inevitably some emphasis on the more 'tabloid', sensationalist aspects of the Borgias, but this is the popular perception...
Published on 11 Aug 2009 by Alex Quigley

versus
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A useful introduction
OVERVIEW: I watched the recent (2011) mini-series on the Borgias as a guilty pleasure. However, I was aware of how fictionalised history is primarily entertainment and I wanted an accessible history of the real events: a Herodotus, not a Homer. I think this book provided it. I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it as a short introduction to the period.

THE...
Published on 7 Feb 2012 by Mac McAleer


Most Helpful First | Newest First

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but not great., 11 Aug 2009
By 
Alex Quigley (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Christopher Hibbert is a very good popular historian who has covered a range of topics related to this book; such as Italian cities etc.. If you want a lively overview of the Borgias at the height of their powers then this is the book for you. There is inevitably some emphasis on the more 'tabloid', sensationalist aspects of the Borgias, but this is the popular perception of the family and Hibbert does have to consider a broad audience. He selects the key events you would expect, but in a very condensed fashion. If you are looking for more depth I would recommend Sarah Bradford's boigraphies of Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia over this book if I am honest, but that is because I wanted more detail, which isn't for everyone. Like Hibbert, these are 'popular' history books, which manage to dispell many of the Borgia myths, whilst still giving a fascinating and lively insight into the Borgia family.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A narrative of greed, desctruction and depravity, 1 Mar 2011
By 
S. Meadows (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Borgias and Their Enemies, 1431-1519 (Paperback)
It needs to said at the start what sort of book this is and what it is not. It is a narrative, told very much in bitesize chunks, scattered with quotations from the original sources. It is not an analytical review of the period. It details the corruption in the catholic church during the late 15 and early 16th centuries, though never in a polemic way. Hibbert is always measured in his approach and where events are disputed or appear to have been created out of speculation, he is quick to say so and does not draw judgement on their veracity; this is mainly in relation to the rumours of incest. Though even if we set those aside, there is no room for doubt left that the reign of the Borgias was nepotistic, bloody, ruthless and fuelled by greed and lust.

The story is told in roughly chronological order, though as each chapter focuses on a different aspect of the history, there is a little jumping around, so there is no single timeline running throughout. Hibbert's scholarship is evident, though not totally transparent; while he states certain facts and at the end gives a list of further reading, the two are not married up, so that I was left frequently asking "where's the justification or the evidence for that statement" and Hibbert doesn't provide the answer. There is also a seeming lack of questions being asked. I was expecting more context and at attempt to understand the importance of the Borgias both at the time and their lasting on impact on catholicism, italian politics and the wider world; unfortunately there was none of this.

Instead, what we have is a step by step case of "this happened. Then this happened. Then this happened. And then this happened" whilst all the time leaving the reader to do all the analysis with only the narrative as a guide. So if you want a dispassionate narrative then this is the book for you. If you are interested in the impact and importance of the Borgias, then you are better off reading Machiavelli's The Prince. That said, this is a valuable resource and I would recommend it as part of any thorough reading of the history of the family and the period.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A useful introduction, 7 Feb 2012
By 
Mac McAleer (London UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Borgias and Their Enemies, 1431-1519 (Paperback)
OVERVIEW: I watched the recent (2011) mini-series on the Borgias as a guilty pleasure. However, I was aware of how fictionalised history is primarily entertainment and I wanted an accessible history of the real events: a Herodotus, not a Homer. I think this book provided it. I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it as a short introduction to the period.

THE BOOK: I cannot comment on the e-book version but as a physical book it is of a manageable size, but smaller than it seems. The book has generous line spacing giving 28 lines per page, which is less than many other paperbacks. Additionally, the chapters are numerous and short, 29 in all, plus 313 pages of text and 4 pages of suggested further reading. There is also an 8 page index. Unfortunately there are no maps or illustrations. There are no separate notes, but the text contains frequent quotations and their sources.

THE STORY: The story begins with pope Callixtus III, originally Alfonso de Borja, who appointed Rodrigo de Borja (Borgia in Italian) as a cardinal. This is a position Rodrigo acquired literally by nepotism as he was the nephew of Callixtus. The English word nepotism comes from the Italian "nepote" meaning nephew. In this case he really was the nephew and not the pope's son, as these appointments often were. Four popes later, the current pope dies and Rodrigo buys his way to the papacy. In this he seems simply to be better at his corruption than the other cardinals.

It continues with the story of Rodrigo and four of his children: Juan, Cesare, Lucrezia and Jofre. Juan is removed from the story early with his murder, possibly by his jealous elder brother Cesare, possibly not.

Rodrigo was hardly holy, but he was devoted to the Virgin Mary, as he was to many other women, less virginal. His devotion to a deity is unknown. He comes across a roguish monster, but a monster with redeeming features. He loves his family, is a capable administrator and a good politician.

Cesare seems to be merely a monstrous psychopath. Lucrezia, despite being called the "whore of Rome" comes across well. She is a reluctant victim of dynastic marriages but ends her life as the respected and much loved Duchess of Ferrara. Caesarea fares badly. When his father dies his fall from power is swift. Jofre moves into the background.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars decadence, power and the papacy in Renaissance Italy, 22 Dec 2012
By 
markr - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this well written and entertaining account of the Borgia's: Rodrigo who became Pope Alexander VI, and his children of whom the most famous were his son Cesare, and his daughter Lucretia.

As well as providing a fascinating account of the Borgia family, their pursuit of power and extravagant lifestyles, Christopher Hibbert almost brings to life through his writing the wider elite of Renaissance Italy; decadence, the patronage of outstanding art, treachery, corruption, religious devotion and the exploitation of the faithful were frequent features of the life of the powerful of the time The misuse of high religious office for the pursuit of wealth and earthly power is a constant theme - although many of the same people also undertook good works, particularly patronage of the arts, which we continue to benefit from to this day

As well as the Borgias this era (and these pages) includes Michelangelo, Raphael, Da Vinci, Machiavelli, Erasmus....these were fascinating times, which are beautiful described in this very enjoyable book.

However, the book is not perfect - it is quite short at just over 300 pages but the line spacing is what gets it there - it would be more like 200 pages otherwise, and the last two chapters which outline what happened to the Borgia family lines after the death of the main characters seem rushed and certainly lack the colour of the previous chapters.

Worth reading though
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 11 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Borgias and Their Enemies, 1431-1519 (Paperback)
very interesting, quick delivery
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 28 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Great product,will use again
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best., 31 Jan 2013
This review is from: The Borgias and Their Enemies, 1431-1519 (Paperback)
Let's begin with Mario Puzo's THE FAMILY. Puzo has had a life-long passion for the Borgias, as have I. His book is both hilarious and hot. Take Astorre Manfredi. The kid was 18 and his brother 15. Astorre was the most handsome lad living at the time. Painters came from all around to do his portrait. He had also inherited a small kingdom that Cesare Borgia coveted. So Cesare convinces the kid to give him his spread in exchange for a few weeks in Rome, the then-equivalent to today's Vegas. Because Astorre knew he had no choice (due to Cesare's military superiority), he consented. The next scene has Astorre and Cesare in a hot tub (I'm not kidding!), although this one is of stone. Astorre puts his hand on Cesare's thigh, but Cesare gently moves it away, saying he's not that kind of guy (again, I'm not kidding). Later I'll tell you what happens to the most beautiful boy in Italy. Another scene: Cesare is in the apartments of his father, Pope Alexander VI, who's at his table writing. Cesare's caressing his sister Lucrezia but because he's not too gentle, Lucrezia calls for her father's assistance. This comes as no surprise since the old man is also an old pervert of the very worst kind (and as there's no real justice in life, he eventually dies in bed--he should have rotted in Hell, but there's also no Hell). The Pope her father takes over the caressing and then prompts his son to enter, deftly, nevertheless well-used portals, encouraging the boy to go gently by gently stroking his butt. One star.
E.R. Chamberlin's THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF BORGIA is old but complete. We learn that slaves could be bought for as little as six ducats, that Tartars were the best workers and Russians and Circassians best for one's bed. Prostitutes died penniless, justifying the saying the `'Venus reduces her worshipers to her own nudity.'' We learn that the gorgeous Astorre and his brother were murdered `'after they had sated the lust of a certain person,'' that person being Pope Alexander VI. One of Cesare's lieutenants was such a tyrant that `'he had thrust a clumsy page boy into the fire, pressing him down with a foot while the boy burned alive.'' Chamberlin doesn't hesitate to reveal gossip concerning Cesare, that he killed his own brother Juan in order to have access to Juan's wife Sancia and because both brothers, jealous of each other, wished to continue incestuous access to their sister Lucrezia.
Ivan Cloulas in THE BORGIAS brings us this quote from a playwright: Do people say that I am both your father and your lover? Let the world, that heap of vermin as ridiculous as they are feebleminded, believe the most absurd tale. The great law of the world is ... to grow and develop what is strongest and greatest in us. Walk straight ahead. Leave hesitation and scruples to small minds.
Marion Johnson in his THE BORGIAS tells us that Cesare had addressed questions to the scientist of the papal court about poisons; he wished to know the ways of poisoning cups, perfumes, flowers, saddles and ever stirrups (!!!).
I did read Rafael Sabatini's book THE LIFE OF CESARE BORGIA, but found it a bit outdated (1929).
Christopher Hibbert's THE BORGIAS AND THEIR ENEMIES tells us about Manfredi: `'Four days later the corpse had been fished out of the Tiber, drowned by a stone tied round his neck. This young man was of such beauty and stature that it would not be possible to find his equal among a thousand of his contemporaries.'' About Cesare: `'Cesar had fallen sick again of that illness of his. Now the flowers (as the syphilitic rashes were euphemistically known) are starting to bloom again.'' When Cesare married: `'He had consummated the matrimony eight times, but these eight times consisted of two before supper and six at night.'' Concerning the Pope, Cesare and his daughter during an orgy: `'At the end they displayed prizes, silk mantles, boots, caps and other objects which were promised to whomsoever should have made love to these prostitutes the greatest number of times.'' When it was reported to the Pope that his new son-in-law was sleeping with others than Lucrezia (`'It was reported that he took his pleasure with other women during the day'') the Pope said, `'Being young it does him good.'' Naturally, this is my favorite book. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Borgias and Their Enemies, 1431-1519
The Borgias and Their Enemies, 1431-1519 by Christopher Hibbert (Paperback - 1 Sep 2009)
9.41
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews